Last weekend a group of us left work early to head up to the Catskills in New York. After stopping for some necessities (food, gas & whiskey), and hitting expected Friday summertime traffic, the trip took us a little over 4 hours. This was my first time camping in New York and there’s a little more paperwork involved than I’m used to in NJ and PA. We were staying at the Kenneth L. Wilson campground where you have to be registered by 9pm. If you’re making the trek up from Philly like us, be sure to leave plenty of time, the ranger came around frequently to check on parking permits, so I’m not sure what would’ve happened had we not checked in on time. The campground also has quiet hours starting at 10pm which they said were strictly enforced but we were up until about 1am that night with no problem. The only problem we ran into at that hour was a raccoon taking off with our trash bag. There are bears and other wildlife in the area so it’s really important to get anything with any sort of scent in the car as soon as you can.
The campground was clean with showers and bathrooms that were also clean (I never saw the showers but from what I heard they were decent). There’s a large field we were able to walk to for some stargazing and a pond where it looked like you could possibly rent canoes or kayaks. The sites themselves were a little on the smaller side, enough room for 2 tents tops, with a nice fire pit and picnic table. Some seemed closer to each other than others but we were in a good spot far enough away from the family next to us. The campground also has large bags of firewood for sale which was convenient but make sure you grab what you need before 9pm. One thing to note, is there is a ton of poison ivy all over the campground. No one in our group showed any signs of being allergic so we were good but if you have an allergy you might want to avoid this particular spot.
Saturday morning we went into Phoenicia, a really small, quaint town about 10-15 minutes away. There are a few stores and restaurants as well as a small supermarket and drugstore. It seemed like a great destination for motorcyclists. We passed by the Black Bear Campground where I’d love to stay next time we head up there. Some of the sites there went right up to the Esopus Creek where tons of people were tubing, swimming and fishing. After that we went for a hike to Kaaterskill Falls, about a 45 minute drive from the campground. It must’ve been a while since it last rained because the falls were a little weak. It was also a little overrun with NY tourists. A friend of ours that’s from the area said you used to be able to hike up to the second pool, which sounded amazing, but the trail had been closed off due to a few deaths that occurred.
We were really wanting to swim so we headed to North-South Lake which also looked like a great place to camp and hike. The lake is beautiful and also has boats to rent. The swimming area is off of a small beach and roped off with lifeguard supervision. Unfortunately the sun was behind the clouds at this point so and the water was brisk. It still felt great though.
On Sunday we packed up camp and found a spot to hang out on the Esopus Creek. There are a bunch of spots to pull over and park on the road and take a quick walk to get to the banks. After that we headed to Pancho Villa‘s in Tannersville to grab some Mexican food before heading to Hunter Mountain for our zip lining reservations. The restaurant has good food and cheap margaritas. Zip lining was a ton of fun and I’d highly recommend checking it out if you’re in that area and that’s your kind of thing! There’s a mid-mountain option or the SkyRider for the more adventurous which is what we went for. Definitely make reservations if you plan to go and keep in mind it’s about a 3 hour tour.
On the way home we drove through Woodstock, NY which would also be a great place to stop and grab a bite to eat. I think from the campground it would have been about a 20-30 minute drive. We also took a bit of a longer route to drive around the Ashokan reservoir which was really pretty and has a long stretch of road great for walking or biking.
We stopped at the Gilded Otter, a brewery and restaurant in New Paltz for dinner and then got back on the road to Philly. It was a great weekend in a beautiful area of New York. Because of the distance I think I’d do it as a long weekend next time. I also felt like there was so much more to see and do and we just didn’t have enough time. But we’ll save that for another trip..